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     Volume 7 Issue 39 | September 26, 2008 |

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Life with Grandchildren

Azizul Jalil

“I love to climb in Grandpa's lap
To hear my favourite books.
He reads the words and talks about
The pictures as I look.”
--John Micklos, Jr.

Cartoon By Shahriar Sharif

Did daddy and dada play together in school?” That was the spontaneous reaction of Shezan (Shez), my grandson. In Atlanta, Rena, our daughter in law, was reading aloud to her then four-year old son the story in the Star magazine about my Williams College days more than forty years ago. To capture the boy's attention, she had just pointed out that his father also went to the same college. We can be quite confusing by speaking in adult language to children. The matter was tenderly cleared-up by saying that his father and I were in the same school but at quite different times.

We were on one of our visits to their house in the beautiful Peach Tree City with hills, lakes, and golf carts, about thirty miles to the south of Atlanta. The weather was good and despite the sun, there were plenty of shaded areas in the yard. I started trimming the bushes and uprooting the weeds. Shez felt that since he was a big boy now (particularly after the birth of a little brother), he had to assist poor dada. We merrily did the work, with my 'dadu' collecting the trimmings and putting most of these in a trash bin with wheels. After some time when he saw me perspiring, he asked me in a serious and concerned voice “are you enjoying, dada?” I told him that of course I was- particularly with his company and help. As he sometimes asks me, I also added a question at the end “are you kidding me?” That completely assured him of the joy in our common endeavour.

One day, I was taking numerous tablets when Shez, with a worried face, asked me “you take so many medicines, are they yummy, dada?” To him, the word 'dada' mostly comes at the end of a sentence. Since I had swallowed the tablets, and did not wish to discourage him from taking his own medication, I could honestly reply in the positive. His medicines are always in liquid form and he knows of only two kinds- 'yummy' and 'yucky'. Shez sat near me, with his little face in his hand, as if he was doing some serious thinking. I told him he should go elsewhere and play with his brother. But he would not move, watching me all the while and surprising me with his patience and concern. He often calls us long distance using programmed dialing facilities, complains that his two-year old brother does not understand anything and that he was causing trouble. He does not forget to add that he misses us and loves us. We do too!

Sesame Street is very popular with children the world over. He is a great fan of the show and speaks about the different characters and their attributes. I like Clifford and the Big Bird but somehow I have an aversion to the Cookie Monster. One day I had told him that Cookie monster was bad. He remembered it and after a few days, asked his father, who agreed with me. When Shez wanted to verify the matter with his mother, her answer was: “Cookie Monster is not really bad, but he does eat up all the cookies. That is the problem”. He was more easily reconciled with this thoughtful explanation.

Shez has developed a taste for classical music. Fortunately, videos of Baby Bach, Baby Mozart and Baby Beethoven are available, with the original but softer, less complicated melodies by the giants of music. Before he sleeps, we have to play his choice of music, gradually reducing the volume as he falls asleep. The musical process takes a bit of time but is worthwhile, as it has certain soporific effects on the child, as well as his grandfather.

Now, with a total of three grandsons and two granddaughters, our house is nearly full. But have the grandparents become older and wiser? No- they have slowly reverted to their mental state of earlier years, being spoiled by the affection and sweet, loving company of the little ones. For example: when my five-year old- granddaughter and I play one of her games, according to her interpretation of the rules I have to wear toy bracelets, ear rings and tiara-no choice given. Her twin, my grandson, wants to play ball with me in the backyard. He brings his puzzles to me and wonders aloud why he always wins when he plays with Dada. Surprise! The latest and the youngest of them all- my eight-month old granddaughter sits on my lap in the office room before the computer, freely punching the keyboard and playing with the mouse- her favourite play things. She is of course oblivious of the fact that my emails are going astray and I am losing some of my writings! These are indeed insignificant costs for all those pleasant and precious moments with the grandchildren.

Thus, the grandparents learn to relive their own long lost childhood with all its innocence through a marvelous exercise in love and affection for the grandkids. People over the centuries have enjoyed the heavenly gift of their grandchildren. My sons shared a similar relationship with their own dada, my father. We used to watch other grandparents and wondered what it would be like when we would have our own. No, there was no exaggeration in their bragging stories of grandchildren's precocity and intelligence. We see it ourselves in our own grandchildren. Have I not already bragged enough about them for one day? Let me remind the readers of a wise old saying- “all is fair in love and war” and, grand parenting!

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